News & Politics

The Morning Briefing: Trump Meets the Pope, Brennan Yip-Yap, the DEADLY Budget and Much, Much More...

Pope Francis meets with President Donald Trump on the occasion of their private audience, at the Vatican, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, Pool)

Good Wednesday Morning

Here’s what’s on President Trump’s agenda this morning:

  • In the morning, President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will participate in an arrival ceremony at the Vatican.
  • The President will then participate in an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis.
  • Later in the morning, the President and the First Lady will participate in an expanded audience with His Holiness Pope Francis.
  • The President will then participate in a bilateral meeting with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.
  • Later in the morning, the President and the First Lady will tour the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.
  • The President will then participate in a bilateral meeting with President Sergio Mattarella of Italy.
  • In the afternoon, the President will participate in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy.
  • The President and the First Lady will then depart Rome, Italy, en route to Brussels, Belgium.
  • Later in the afternoon, the President and the First Lady will take an official photo with Their Majesties King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium.
  • The President will then participate in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium.

President Trump meets the Pope

The President arrived in Vatican City this morning and was greeted by Pope Francis, shaking his hand before heading into their private meeting.

The New York Times reminds us:

The two have fundamentally different views about how to restore balance to a global economic system they consider broken, with Mr. Trump focusing on the engines of capitalism and Pope Francis fighting to protect the workers and the disadvantaged from dehumanizing forces of the modern world.

“The thing they have in common is a major responsibility to govern,” said Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit priest who edits the Vatican-approved journal La Civiltà Cattolica. “The pope is an actor on the world stage and Trump is the president of a country with a huge impact on the world.”

Pope Francis, a savvy political operator, had signaled in the days leading up to the meeting that he was not seeking a confrontation.

We haven’t heard many details about the President’s trip. Fox News is carrying some of the events live, but CNN and the other networks aren’t interested. I suspect that’s because the trip seems to be going well. We’ve heard coverage about the “hand slap heard ’round the world” and the “guest book fiasco” and much less about the substance of his visits.

Manchester terrorist is right out of central terrorist casting

Salman Abedi, the suspected Manchester terrorist bomber, is a bit of a familiar figure: child of refugees, “self-radicalized,” visited Libya and probably Syria, and on the radar of law enforcement.

The portrait emerging of the alleged bomber, who is believed to have detonated an improvised explosive device that killed him and 22 people and injured more than 50 others outside an Ariana Grande concert on Monday night, is one of a potentially disaffected young man who grew up in an area identified as a hotbed for jihadi recruitment.

Abedi, 22, was described as the son of a family who emigrated from Libya and, according to Robin Simcox, a terrorism and national security analyst at The Heritage Foundation, one of the hundreds of young men known to British counterterrorism authorities as potential threat.

“Abedi was a terrorist suspect in the UK, MI5 were aware of him,” Simcox told ABC News. “They were aware that he posed a potential threat but they didn’t think he posed an imminent threat that he proved himself to do in Manchester.”

Here are some more red flags:

A senior counterterrorism official told ABC that one reason Abedi may have dropped out of college is because he recently travelled outside the United Kingdom to Libya and possibly other countries, “it seems, to get some skills,” though Syria did not appear to be one of his destinations.

Abedi, the official said, was on the radar of British security officials but time ran out on the surveillance clock without Abedi doing anything nefarious, so authorities apparently moved on. It is unknown, the official added, whether Abedi made the device on his own or if he had help.

Mohammed Saeed, the imam of the local Didsbury Mosque and Islamic Centre, where Abedi sometimes worshipped, told ABC News that Abedi became angry with him after he gave a sermon in 2015 in which he criticized ISIS.

Meanwhile back at home, we are fighting a battle to vet folks coming in from countries that are a “hotbed for jihadi recruitment.”

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before

When you’ve lost Morrissey…

Brennan testifies

Former CIA Director Brennan appeared before the House Intelligence Committee yesterday. Here are a few important takeaways: the Russians have been trying to interfere with our elections for decades; there is not proof that the Trump campaign “colluded” with the Russians; the Russians wanted to damage Hillary because they thought she was going to win and wanted a damaged U.S. president; Brennan declined to state if specific persons on the Trump campaign were working with the Russians.

Of course, Brennan qualified some of his statements after the fact so that we could have some ambiguity and some fodder for the MSM to obsess about.

“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals,” Brennan said  “And it raised questions in my mind again whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.” Brennan had no answers to those questions. Keep in mind, at the very least Brennan read the transcripts of the phone conversations General Flynn had with Russian official Kislyak and still remains unsure if there was “collusion.” And, as I always ask, why haven’t those transcripts leaked out?

“That’s not necessarily exculpatory since I did not know the state of the investigation or the content — what had been turned up with it,” he qualified.

“By the time I left office on Jan. 20, I had unresolved questions in my mind as to whether or not the Russians had been successful in getting U.S. persons involved in the campaign or not to work on their behalf,” he said.

Other fun things at the hearing: Brennan’s thought experiment about what was wrong with the Trump’s meeting at the WH with Russian officials based on unsubstantiated leaks reported by the hostile media. “So it appears as though, at least from the press reports, that neither did it go in the proper channels nor did the originating agency have the opportunity to clear language for it. So that is a problem.”

I have some news for Mr. Brennan…

Trump’s DEADLY, BLOODY budget

On Tuesday, the administration officially released its proposed budget and the budget is going to maim and kill people. At least that is message we are hearing from the media, the Democrats, and the elites. And take note, the media dares not use such language when they describe the carnage of Islamic extremists.

BBC reports the budget TAKES A HATCHET to the social safety net.

ABC News tells us that food stamps are a CASUALTY of the budget.

Time magazine reports it SLASHES the Education Department.

NYC’s village idiot mayor says CHILDREN WILL DIE because of the budget.

The NYT explains the budget CUTS DEEPLY into Medicaid and anti-poverty efforts.

Science programs will be SLASHED, according to Scientific American.

And last but not least, the totally irrelevant, twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says it shows AN UNIMAGINABLE LEVEL OF CRUELTY.

It’s time we take a step back and evaluate whether there is not something gravely wrong with a society where so many people have a life-death relationship with government support.

Go read the budget for yourself; here’s a link.

Report: What is your college student assigned to read over the summer?

The National Association of Scholars is releasing a report this morning detailing what books college students have been assigned to read as part of the common reading program. The report will be available after 9 a.m. this morning. Here are some highlights:

  • 75% of common reading assignments were published between 2010 and the present. Only 13 (3.7%) were published before 1990. Only 6 (1.7%) were published before 1900.
  • Many common readings are chosen to promote activism; they ignore the virtues of the disengaged life of the mind.
  • The three most widely assigned books—15% of all assignments—were all recent nonfiction or memoirs about African Americans suffering from American racism.

The NAS report is fairly comprehensive and lists 348 colleges and universities located in 46 states, including 58 of the top 100 universities and 25 of the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the US News and World Report rankings.

I won’t spoil the report for you but head over to their Beach Books report and find out exactly what higher education thinks is important reading for your college student.

Other morsels:

Aziz Ansari has “Trump fatigue”

Here’s where $100k salary puts you outside the top 20% of earners

Tips on how to cook the perfect steak on the grill

Top Gun sequel?

And that’s all I’ve got, now go beat back the angry mob!